Got teenagers? Chances are you notice changes around your house during summer vacation, and one very nasty change can be a mysterious increase in the electricity bill. This came to my attention recently when my friend Sarah was regaling me with her latest headache regarding her sons.
Sarah is blessed with three teenage sons, ages 14, 17 and 19 years, who are all home for summer vacation.
“Every summer it gets worse,” she tells me. “My electricity bill is out of control. I swear it must be all of that Xbox they’re playing. I tell them to spend more time outside, but it’s like banging my head against a brick wall.”
Intrigued, I trawled the web for the figures on how much electricity an Xbox 360 uses in game mode, and ran the numbers. Sarah thinks her boys collectively spend about four hours a day on the Xbox. If this is true, I calculate they’re using about 40 kw-h of electricity a month, which, in our area, equates to about $6/month.
So what gives? The extra Xbox usage doesn’t help the electricity bill, but it also isn’t the cause of Sarah’s woes.
“Surely those kids must be blasting the AC all day?” I ask.
“No. I don’t have an air conditioner,” she replies.
I am stumped so I ask myself over ‘for coffee’ (read: to investigate). When I get there I am confused. Sarah only has 3 sons, but there must be 8 or 9 teenagers bomb diving her pool. It turns out they’re her kids’ school friends. It turns out she provides them with towels so long as they wash and dry them themselves, and… it turns out she has an ancient energy-hog washer and dryer.
Sarah thought she was doing a good thing by encouraging her kids to play outside and to be responsible for their own laundry, but she didn’t realize that she was also encouraging them to use gobs of energy unnecessarily.
Now Sarah is shopping for a more energy efficient washer and dryer and the boys are hanging their towels to dry (it is still summer after all), but she has another question:
“I’m not here all the time. How can I make sure they’re not being irresponsible with their energy use when I’m not around?”
That’s a great question, stay posted for the answer!
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